You can have it all; you just can’t have it all, all at once.
I arise each weekday long before the sun, and, by the time I arrive at the office around 9, I've spent almost 90 minutes breathing, flowing, and sweating through a vigorous Ashtanga yoga practice. I've called my mother. And I've had my morning cup of coffee.
I work all day, pausing to eat a breakfast and lunch I made myself, from scratch.
At night, I teach yoga, I run, I take Spinning classes, I (rarely) meet friends. I run errands.
Then I make dinner.
After dinner, there's dirty laundry, dirty dishes, quality time with Sam and the cats, cleaning up, packing tomorrow's breakfast and lunch, setting out yoga and work clothes, returning emails, and so much more.
Though I intend to be in bed by 10, it's usually 11:30 when my head hits the pillow--and that's often the first time I've sat down since leaving work (aside from dinner). I awake the next day and do it all again.
Though I love my life, each night, before I fall asleep, there is that fleeting moment of panic: I didn't do ____. I should have done more/less ____. I need to ____.
Enough, I tell myself, when that self-doubt pipes up. You've done enough.
I repeat my mantra:
I did my best today.
I'll do better tomorrow.
There are only 24 hours in a day. I can only do so much and still be happy and healthy. To be healthy and happy, that means some things are sacrificed:
I missed the weeknight meetup with my gal pals. I should call my sister. I'm long overdue for a trim.
My floors need mopping. My kitchen table is cluttered. The bathroom probably needs a good scrubbing.
I should respond to that work email. I wish I had more time to read. I haven't spent more than a few minutes journaling in several weeks.
I think back to advice that a successful woman once shared with me: You can have it all; you just can’t have it all, all at once. No matter who are you: man, woman, mother, single gal, homemaker, corporate executive. We aren't perfect, and our identity and priorities must be flexible in order to succeed at anything.
One of my favorite assignments during my stint as a business reporter was interviewing some of Cincinnati’s YWCA Career Women of Achievement.
I was 26, and I was struggling. I wasn’t happy with my career path, and I knew I wanted to make healthy living a part of my work. But I didn’t know where to start. I had a great mentor/editor, but what she wanted for me was different from what I wanted for myself.
I was ready to change, but I didn’t know how.
Then this assignment landed in my lap. Over the course of a month, I interviewed 10 career women who were receiving the honor that year, along with several who had received it in years past.
Those women are pillars of the business community. Those interviews happened mere weeks before I found the job with SparkPeople, and I truly believe that assignment changed my life.
Two bits of advice stuck with me:
"Live every day to exhaustion," from a medical doctor who is an executive at a large consumer-goods company
"You can have it all; you just can’t have it all, all at once," from a former bank president turned civic leader.
That first one I've mastered. (Haven't we all?) It's that second one we're focusing on today.
She said that she struggled throughout her career because she wanted to be the best, all the time: the best mom, the best wife, the best employee, the best boss, the best friend. Eventually, someone told her what she told me. Just as you can please some people all the time and all the people some of the time, you can be the best at one thing all of the time or all of those things some of the time.
Some days, some weeks, some years, your focus might be your career. Other fires will suffer: friends, family, healthy. Other times, health is at the forefront.
At the end of the day, when you're lying in bed, exhausted because you've taken from life all you can, remember that. So what if you only worked out for 20 minutes instead of 30, or if you had to ask your partner for help with dinner--or (gasp!) ordered takeout? So what if I left the mail on the table and need to wash yesterday's workout clothes?
You did the best you could today. Tomorrow you'll again do your best. That might mean a longer workout, a shorter workday, dinner in the slow cooker that's waiting on you when you come home. It might also mean an extra hour of sleep, leaving the laundry for one more day, or turning off your phone to get some "me" time.
When we learn to stop demanding perfection of ourselves, we're able to keep ourselves from being our own worst enemy. Whether it's weight loss, career goals, or other issues in your life, keep that in mind. We're all human. We're all trying our best. We're all busy.
Do as much as you can each day, and know that there's always tomorrow.
Do you struggle to have it all, all at once? Which areas did you succeed in today? How do you keep your life in balance?
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